For nearly 20 years TKM Projekt has specialized in building machines, robot workstations, and manufacturing lines tailored to customer needs. The TKM Projekt’ team consists of experienced constructors, electrical and automation specialists. The company headquarters is located in Wrocław.
Inability to perform acceptance testing of the laser engraving system built for one of the key customers due to restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adopting the nsFLow platform to perform acceptance testing of the system without the need to visit the supplier’s site.
nsFlow IN ACTION
TKM Projekt has been working on a project since Q3 2018 to design and build a laser engraving system for a major manufacturing client. The project had strict deadlines for completion and acceptance of respective stages, which were met by both parties uninterrupted. The project in question wasn’t the first one carried out by TKM Projekt for said client. The two companies had an excellent business relationship and a rich history of successful joint implementations. This time, however, the scheduled completion of the project was jeopardized by the coronavirus-related restrictions. Both companies introduced a ban on business trips and accepting visitors on the company’s premises.
The project was already entering the final phase, the Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT). During FAT,
the customer verifies that the ordered machine works as it is supposed to perform after its implementation in the factory, in all respects. The machine's operation is checked during routine work and emergencies, along with safety systems and performance parameters.
Tests, performed following the User Requirements Specification (URS), contain specific expectations towards the system. Due to the complexity of acceptance tests, FAT is conducted by the customer on-site at the supplier's premises, often in several iterations. The FAT phase is an important milestone that opens (or closes) the path to the implementation phase. Consequently, the possibility to issue an invoice for the work performed depends on the FAT results.
Postponing acceptance testing may have many unfavourable consequences, the most significant of which are:
disruption of the project schedule, leading to delayed project delivery
possible deterioration of business relations caused by untimeliness
serious disturbance of the supplier’s financial liquidity
possible delays in other dependent projects on the client’s side
The situation was serious, and both parties were interested in working out a solution. At that time nsFlow platform was designed for streamlining industrial processes and managing employee development processes in offices and industrial facilities. Initially, the companies were not convinced about carrying out such a critical project without physical contact between the client and the machine. However, after acknowledging the proposed process workflow and solutions offered by all nsFlow modules, the decision was made to perform the acceptance fully remotely.
The LMS module allows management of knowledge and content, mainly training-related, along with collaboration
mechanisms, which could be successfully applied to support the feedback process during acceptance testing and patch approval. Additionally, the Remote Support module of the nsFlow system using AR (Augmented Reality), provided the functionality allowing the client to remotely inspect the machine and observe its operation in real-time. The tool enables immediate response to technical issues arising on the spot, from any location and at any time, delivering live instructions via AR devices (e.g. Microsoft HoloLens 2, RealWear HMT-1 / HMT-1Z1, Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses, Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2). This module supports the design of next-step workflows to optimize their performance, monitor work and collect crucial data.
The acceptance process for the laser engraving systems progressed as follows:
TKM Project prepared photo/video documentation for each user requirement (URS) specified for the system and placed it on the Samelane platform with a reference to particular URS elements.
Personnel designated by the client reviewed posted materials and approved the content in the LMS module, made comments or reported the necessity of additional verification.
TKM Projekt implemented changes to the system according to made comments and placed additional documentation to the platform in the context of the submitted notes.
The LMS module stores the complete history of comments and materials provided in response to comments, along with information about the authors and reviewers.
In cases of reported need for additional verification or inspection of the machine, a TKM employee equipped with RealWear HMT-1 augmented reality glasses with the nsFlow application installed established a remote support session, inviting the client’s employee.
The glasses come with an advanced noise reduction microphone, a speaker and a camera with 4-axis optical image stabilization, enabling two-way audio-video communication. The TKM Project employee performed operations on the machine, as instructed by the employee of the client.
Thanks to the camera installed in the glasses, the nsFlow system transmitted a real-time image of the machine to the representative of the client. The observer viewed the machine's operation as if through the eyes of the operator.
The representative of the client during the call could also take high-resolution pictures, save them on his computer or make annotations (e.g. mark the key elements that he wished to examine closely) and send the marked picture back to the TKM Projekt employee. The Remote Support module on the nsFlow platform allows text messaging. The communication unit facilitates transferring details on item IDs or electrical wire numbers.
All approved and unapproved user requirement items were available as comprehensible reports on the LMS module, for convenient tracking of acceptance progress.
The companies worked with nsFlow platform tools for 3 weeks until all URS elements were approved by the client. The acceptance testing was thus completed on time, the completed work accounted for, and the project was approved to enter the implementation phase.
As a result of the successful acceptance process, both the client and TKM became convinced to remote FAT execution. The companies have used the solution in subsequent projects, appraising its convenience, reduction of business trip costs and savings in time without compromising the quality of performed tests.